Dallas Area Rapid Transit (TOD) Guidelines: Promoting TOD around DART Transit Facilities (Aug. 2008)

Posted by | Filed under TOD Guidelines | Jul 23, 2011 | No Comments
Below are excerpts from the DART Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines:

DART aims to help create communities where residents can live, work, and play without relying on an automobile.

Opened in 1996, the DART light rail system now encompasses 45 miles of transit and 35 light rail transit (LRT) stations.  Successful TODs achieve the following:

  • Embody the principles of good transit-oriented design 
  • Complement the station area and the surrounding neighborhood
  • Enrich the transit experience for DART riders and the pedestrian experience of those who visit or live in the area
  • Add to the municipal tax base

By 2018, DART will more than double the light rail network to 93 miles, with even more expansion identified in its 2030 Transit System Plan.View the DART 2030 Transit System Plan

(click logo to be directed the the plan)

Station Area Development Potential

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is a development style that promotes mixed-use development within a 5 to 10 minute walk of a transit station.  Characteristics of TOD:

Place-making: TOD creates a sense of community and of place, a destination that people want to return to time and again. 

Market Capture: Increasingly, people want more housing choices and more transportation choices.  Skyrocketing fuel prices make suburban commutes less attractive than ever.  Further, a housing market shift toward convenience, affordability, and activity – combined with shifting demographics – reinforces the attractiveness of TOD.  In a 2003 study by Reconnecting America, Dallas was named tenth among U.S. cities with the highest potential demand for TOD housing.  The study found that by 2030, there could be a TOD housing demand of 270,676 households, or a percentage increase of 483% from 2000.


Property Values:In 2007, the Urban Land Institute described TOD as an “emerging trend” in real estate and a “best bet for investors” for the third consecutive year.  In the North Texas region, TODs are proven as a solid investment.  A Fall 2007 study commissioned by DART and produced by the University of North Texas attributed $4.26 billion in development generated by TOD around DART projects since 1999.  When comparing TOD to non-TOD, the UNT study showed that transit-oriented residential development had 39% greater property values than non-TOD residential development, and that transit-oriented office development had 53% greater property values than office development outside of transit station areas.


Density: Transit station areas offer a concentration of people, businesses, and activity that translate into high numbers of residents and customers for development sites.  Station areas also have a much higher capacity for density than other non-core developments, offering the biggest potential for growth.


Parking reductions: Since many customers arrive at station-area developments via transit rather than cars, parking needs for station area development are much lower than for suburban-style development.  Municipal parking standards tend to be significantly reduced within proximity of station areas, and shared parking is the rule instead of the exception.  For customers that do travel by car, transit-oriented development offers a “park once” experience for visitors, where it’s possible to park in one location at the beginning of an outing and enjoy local offerings on foot.


Sustainability: Without auto-related pollution, station areas enjoy cleaner air quality on average than car congested areas.  TODs also represent a more efficient use of land, energy, and resources than suburban greenfield development, and help conserve open space and gas by concentrating development around transit.


Stability: Since transit facilities are a permanent fixture, developing around transit stations has the security of stability, unlike auto-dependent developments whose location could fall out of favor with consumers over time.


Transit-Oriented Development

To date (2008), there are four transit-oriented developments along the DART rail system: Southside at Lamar (Cedars Station); Mockingbird Station (Mockingbird Station); Galatyn Park (Galatyn Park); and East Side Village Phase I and II (Downtown Plano).  These developments are examples of how projects can blend with existing neighborhoods, create a community, and be an added value to transit riders.  Note: Since the writing of these guidelines there are several TODs that have been built, are under construction, or are in the planning stages. 


Station Area Types

DART contains two primary station environment types in its 45-mile system: Urban infill station environments and suburban station environments.

[A]  Urban Infill Station Environment


1.  {High Density} (a minimum of 1.5:1 floor area ratio or 35 dwelling units per acre)

2.  {Mixed Use} (office, retail, housing, hotel, institutional/medical, and civic uses, including traditional city centers)

3.  {Distances are short} (within 1/4 or 1/2 mile) compared with a similar number of possible destinations in the suburbs

4.  Typically served by a {grid of streets} with similar sized blocks for development

5.  Circulation system with {short block sizes} and {continuous sidewalks} favors pedestrians

6.  Downtown stations may be at a convergence of multiple transit corridors, so {passenger transfer is a major activity}

7.  Development opportunities are typically infill sites among existing uses or redevelopment of larger sites


[B]  Suburban Station Environment


1.  Development {density} can vary greatly, but is generally {moderate to low} with a {low mix of uses} 

2.  { Located at or near} major suburban activity centers such as an {office complex} or a {regional retail center}

 3.  Typically, buildings are spread apart, and are served by {surface parking, large arterial roads and freeways} in addition to transit

 4.  Given the nature of the suburban environment, there is typically {more flexibility to design and assemble larger parcels of land}

 5.  The frequency of connected, {local streets is typically inconsistent} or may be completely lacking

6.  {Pedestrian access} to stations is usually {weak}

7.  Development opportunities include infill, redevelopment or new (greenfield) sites, or brownfield sites

8.  Parking consists of surface lots or structured parking shared by uses 


Developer Considerations:

What mix of uses is right for this site?

How does this site connect to surrounding sites?

How densely can the site be developed?

What considerations should be given to civic space or public art?

What type of building form would be best?

How well can pedestrians flow through the site?


General Station Area Development Goals:

Adjust the mix and intensity of station area development to achieve complementary adjacency’s and transitions between existing and proposed uses (e.g. retail to housing, retail to office, higher density to lower density)

Promote long-term vision for the station area

 Address nuisances such as noise, traffic congestion, interference with view through setbacks, separation, buffers, screening, and traffic calming.

Accommodate existing viable businesses

 Protect unique and sensitive natural environments

 Protect valued views



Station Area Components:

Land Use

Intensity of Development

Built Form

Civic Space and Public Art



Sustainable Development


For more information about the DART Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Guidelines please click the DART logo below:

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